Imagine going on an adventure and during this quest, half of all the people who went with you died?
This is what happened to the Pilgrims. They suffered incredible discomfort, disease and death when they came to America.
One hundred and two people crammed into a cargo hold the size of a volleyball court (with a five-foot-high ceiling) with the animals and no restrooms (only chamber pots) for two months. They arrived at the wrong destination at the beginning of winter. Sickness killed half of the community. Sixteen couples left England; only three couples were intact after the winter and spring.
Would you hold a day of Thanksgiving?
William Bradford (the governor of Plymouth) wrote:
“It was answered that all great and honorable actions are accompanied with great difficulties, and must be enterprised and overcome with answerable courages. It was granted that the dangers were great, but not desperate, and the difficulties were many but not invincible .… and all of them, through the help of God, by fortitude and patience, might either be borne or overcome .… Their ends were good and honorable, their calling lawful and urgent, and therefore they might expect the blessing of God in their proceeding; yea, though they should lose their lives in this action, yet they might have comfort in the same, and their endeavors would be honorable.“
Bradford instructs that great actions happen when there are great difficulties. He advocated overcoming these challenges and when they could not be overcome, to just bear them and keep going.
Life is challenging. Overcoming these challenges is what makes life. We can either have a Pilgrim attitude and rise to the occasion or fall into a pity party for ourselves and give up.
I want to encourage you that if life has been hard this year and you feel like quitting, don’t give up. Remember that others, like the Pilgrims, have been in tough places and there is hope. Keep a thankful heart, keep your joy and ask God for help, but don’t quit.
Our culture has put great emphasis on comfort. We have become enamored with the softest bed and the tastiest food (there is nothing wrong with having nice things), but we should be able to do without them if needed, without a bunch of moaning and groaning.
We should not think, that sounds hard, so I am not even going to try. Take courage in your heart. Work hard to accomplish great things in life. Do things that make life better for others. If you see an obstacle, see an opportunity to accomplish a great action.
Be thankful for the good, overcome or bear the bad and take courage to live life to the fullest.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NLT) — “Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”
Dr. Bob Swanger, pastor of the River Church in a Barn, has been married for 34 years has 13 children — six natural, three adopted (Russia, Colombia and Marion) and four foster — and six grandchildren (soon to be eight). He is a Stage-4 Melanoma cancer survivor.